Mar 7, 2013

Tactical (Restaurant) Review: Highland Bakery

Highland Bakery, the renowned roving cart turned sit-down restaurant located in three separate locations sprinkled across Atlanta brewed its reputation for it’s great cup of java and the muffins that accompanied them. Now a days, they’re still known for their coffee but also their large portion dishes, to-go desserts and eclectic crowds. My wife and I turned into the Old Fourth Ward location to find out if the reputation lived up to the hype.

We chose the Freedom location because it was central to other spots on our to-do list for the day and it seemed large enough that we wouldn’t have much of a wait, even on a weekday (it was still packed). The structure is an old style brick and mortar shop much in line with the surrounding shopping district and it portrayed a welcoming, down to earth vibe. Plenty of parking around the restaurant was easy enough to find with one circling of the building.

The entrance consisted of a large refrigerated case displaying all their sugared confections ranging from muffins, cupcakes pops, cookies, etc. and a coffee bar. The multi-colored offerings are impressive opening salvo as one saunters by on the way to the main dining hall. 

The server leads one by a windowed kitchen area where baked breads are seen in every corner. The colorfully, eclectic décor reminds one of an old school college rec room stocked with college age servers there to take your order. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and the service for us was spot on through out the meal.

The menu itself was appointed with all the necessities of a well-stocked breakfast stop; pancakes (sweet potato, ricotta and corn), eggs benedict (crab, country fried steak, cowboy), sandwiches, grits, granola, oatmeal, you get the idea. As per our standard operating procedure, we had the server give us her recommendations, their Classic French Toast and Fried Chicken Benedict.

First and foremost, the Fried Chicken Benedict was everything a hybrid Benedict should be. Mouth watering to look at, it was served on a flaky, buttery biscuit, the fried chicken was deliciously moist and crunchy, the poached egg the perfect medium temperature all topped with a jalapeño cheddar cheese sauce. It was divine. One of the more creative and satisfying Eggs Benedict I've had to date. If I had to nitpick, I’d want more heat from the jalapeño sauce or a bottle of Srircha on the table.

Feeling good about the Benedict, we dived into the French Toast. It looked impressive. It seemed they served us half a loaf of their homemade Challah bread on the plate. Fresh berries dotted the plate with a ‘French’ style cream sauce that was creatively stripped across the four ginormous slices (did I mention the ‘toasts’ were HUGE?!). The cream-less caramel for syrup was almost enough to distract you from the fact that these slices were completely devoid of any moisture. Nothing, Zilch. Nada. This, in my humble opinion, is not how French Toast should be. It was liken to sitting down into a beautifully rugged looking fire truck with all the bells and whistles only to find that the engine lacked any punch. A disappointment.

Like a sponge crying for the ocean, here's the too dry French Toast.
Now a word (or three) on the pastries as we took a to-go box filled with various goodies for the road. The German Chocolate cupcake was a winner (WOW!) and the lemon bar solid but all the others were more ‘miss’ then ‘hit’ (i.e.- their eclair was stuffed with a peanut butter cream which was just off). My wife’s more refined palate picked up on the infamous refrigerator after taste with a number these. It detracted the full potency of these goods which was unfortunate.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass along that their coffee was very good (according to the coffee expert in the family, AKA- my wife) and right in line with all that we were told. They even offered a to-go cup for the Misses as we set up to depart, a very nice touch.

Overall, Highland Bakery was a something of a mixed bag for me. Though some of the refrigerated pastries and the bone dry French Toast left me momentarily questioning their reputation, the Fried Chicken Benedict, casual service, firefighter size helpings, college style atmosphere and coffee will be enough to bring me back for more.

Review Date: Mar 2013

3 Alarms.

Highland Bakery on Urbanspoon

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